About Us

This project started in 2014 in an effort to remove language, educational, and socioeconomic barriers that prevent students from participating in the science fair. The Science Fair Mentoring Project was born out of a desire to support these students. Now in its sixth year, the Science Fair Mentoring Project has assisted 365 students participate in the local science fair and 93 students to attend the Regional Science Fair in Mankato.

This project is led by a Board of Directors and steering committee comprised of the following community members and educators:

  • Catherine Haslag, Project Founder, Board President, and C.E.O.

  • Carolyn Bogott, retired early childhood educator and Secretary for the Board of Directors

  • Fred Bogott, retired doctor with Mayo Hospital and member of the Board of Directors

  • Rick Herreid, retired researcher from Hormel Research and Development and Treasurer for the Board of Directors

  • Gema Alvarado, Director of the Parenting Resource Center and member of the Board of Directors

  • Jake Vela, Success Coach, Banfield Elementary School and member of the Board of Directors

Shelly Weinmann, Teacher, Neveln Elementary School and member of the Steering Committee


  •  Increase enrollment in the science fair.

  • Provide students with the opportunity to develop positive relationships with adults in the community.

  • Expose students to science in a new way.

  • Provide a meaningful civic engagement opportunity to the Austin community and Riverland students.


  • Project supplies. All of the supplies a student needs to complete their project will be provided to them at no cost to the student.

  • Guidance in completing project. Students are paired with mentors who guide them through the process of completing their experiment. Students work with the same mentor as much as possible to help facilitate relationship development between mentor and the student.

  • Engage with science in a new and exciting way. Science is best learned hands-on. This project allows students to experience science by actively engaging in it in a way they wouldn’t otherwise be able to.

  • Improve self-confidence

  • Build positive relationships. The students who participate in this program build positive relationships with their adult mentor